14. John Afoa (rugby) – $1 million
One of the more unlikely names to feature in world rugby’s top earners column, former All Blacks prop John Afoa ranks among the highest-paid players in European rugby.
After two seasons with Irish club Ulster, Afoa penned a four-year deal with Gloucester in December reportedly worth $1 million a season. The deal makes him the highest-paid player in England’s Aviva Premiership, and the third-highest earner in Europe, behind only glamour first-fives Jonny Wilkinson (who has since retired) and Jonathon Sexton.
The 36-test All Black was expected to return to Auckland this year to fight for a place in the 2015 World Cup squad after his family were unable to settle in Northern Ireland, but the NZRU were unable to offer anything close to what the strong-running prop could earn in England or France. However, the dollars on offer wasn’t the sole driver in his decision – it is understood he passed over even bigger money from French clubs in favour of more family-friendly Gloucester.